Wood vs Charcoal Smoker

The wood vs charcoal smoker rhetoric is never-ending one but we will try to get you to a workable conclusion here. Both are different equipment, which is used for the same purpose, which is to smoke-cook food.

A lot of their specific features and traits make them distinguishable among each other and that is also what drives the quality, taste, and overall experience of smoking food. To know that which is best or at least better than the other, we need to first understand that what exactly a wood or charcoal smoker is and how they both work.

What is Charcoal Smoker?

Charcoal smokers have totally redefined how you cook food. It is one of the most convenient types of smokers to get your favorite smoked food to the dining table in a quick amount of time. You just don’t need any external fuel source. All you need is to light up your fuel and then add pellets or chips into it.

Users of charcoal smokers can get the strongest possible to smoke with it. But, at the same time, it is a type, which is a bit hard to master.

The expertise is needed in the department of temperature handling, which means it is to get control of the oxygen, which gets over the fire. To do this mastery, you need to learn about the fine-tuning of vents, baffles, and dampers in your charcoal smokers.

You may also need to replenish the smoke when you are on a long smoking mission. Generally, the thing is more labor-intensive and it has a very steep learning curve. However, the results produced after mastering the art could be sublime.

What is a Wood Smoker?

Wood smokers use wood as the main source of fuel for cooking food. The wood is the total source of fuel here. On the other side, other types of smokers having a different primary source of fuel could also use wood chips or pellets to add distinguish taste to their food. The smokers come with a dedicated compartment, where you can add wood chips to smoke food. They are generally a bit difficult to set up as compared to charcoal or any other type of smoker.

They also take a considerable amount of time to cook as the temperature takes time to get to the desired level to smoke food. However, the level of smoked food quality and the taste is something really special with wood smokers.

If you become a fan of wood smoker then you normally re a fan for life as no other source or type of smoker could match the unique taste of a wood smoker. It is actually that distinguishing wood smoke flavor that makes the food very tasty.

The wood that you use to smoke food in a wood smoker comes in different sizes and shapes such as the sawdust, chunks, pellets and wood chips, etc. The wood chips are the most preferred type of all and it is further distributed in different flavors. Some of the popular wood chips are pecan, hickory, cherry, apple, and mesquite. Different types of wood chips are applicable for specific food items to get you the best taste.

The Top 3 Wood/ Pellet Smokers:

1. Traeger Grills TFB57PZBO Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill and Smoker

2. Z Grills Pellet Grill and Smoker

3. Pit Boss Pellet Grill

Comparing the major differences between a wood and a charcoal smoker:

As both, types of smokers have a different source of fuel, but the fire type produced by both and the resultant impact on the food being cooked may vary to a certain extent. The following are the areas where they both differ:


Higher temperatures are possible with the charcoal smokers as compared to the wood type. Typical wood smokers could give you a maximum temperature of around 500 degrees F and many of them just couldn’t reach here. Nevertheless, such types can maintain well any specific temperature, which they achieve. On the other hand, the charcoal smokers could go well up to 800 degrees F. The temperature range for charcoal also depends on its size and the charcoal being used.


The flavor with a wood smoker is quite close to its source. Food smoke-cooked in a charcoal smoker is normally smokier and has a special taste of its own. However, it doesn’t have much of a strong wood flavor. You may add wood in the charcoal smoker to get that special woody flavor touch.

Ease of Use:

Wood smokers are quite convenient to use as compared to their counterparts. The experience with the wood smoker is very much like a regular oven one. You just need to fill in the hopper with the wood chunks and the rest is normal oven handling. Charcoal requires a good amount of effort. Even with lighter fuels, this type will take its sweet time before you could have it ready for smoking. Moreover, with the charcoal smokers, getting it to your desired temperature is also a tedious and time-consuming job. You need to master the airflow control tactics to maximize charcoal smokers.


You may find low-temperature cooking quite easy with the wood smokers. However, achieving higher temperatures is not such an option for wood smokers. Charcoal smokers can get to higher temperatures and this means, cooking is much faster in this specific equipment. Moreover, you may also lower the temperature easily in a charcoal smoker, if it is desirable.

The Top 3 Charcoal Smokers:

1. Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker

2. Dyna-Glo heavy Duty Charcoal Smoker

3. Real cook Vertical Charcoal Smoker


Both the wood and charcoal smokers have their special qualities. Wood smokers provide more natural wood taste, but they generally take a longer time to cook. The maximum temperature as compared to the charcoal smoker is not much high for a wood smoker. The charcoal smoker may give a good taste by complimenting wood, but it could be difficult equipment to master. Finally, the wood smokers may be a bit more costly as compared to charcoal, typically in terms of their initial cost. Operational costs may vary in both depending on the type of wood or the charcoal being used in their respective cases.

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